Last year, Netflix announced that actor Danny Masterson would be written off the comedy series The Ranch during its then-upcoming third season after the Los Angeles Police Department reopened a sexual assault investigation of the actor dating back to 2004 after more women came forward with accusations against Masterson.
Now, the first half of the season has premiered, and we know how Masterson was written off. His character, Rooster Bennett, left town in the midseason finale after being threatened by his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend.
Rooster was rekindling his relationship with Mary (Megyn Price), which infuriated her current boyfriend Nick (Josh Burrow), who early in the episode broke into Rooster's apartment and threatened to kill him, and only the intervention of Rooster's brother Colt (Ashton Kutcher) deescalated the situation. Later, Rooster went to the bar where Mary works, where she told him she had broken up with Nick after she found out what he did to Rooster. When Rooster got home, he found Nick waiting for him. He had packed a bag of Rooster's belongings.
"You either take that bag and disappear, or you could just disappear," Nick said. Rooster initially blustered back at Nick, but then Nick pulled out a gun and repeated his ultimatum, at which point Nick picked up the bag and walked out.
The exit leaves room for Masterson to return if for some reason the producers and Netflix decide that's a good idea. In addition to acting, Masterson is also credited as an executive producer on the show. Netflix has not commented on whether he will retain that credit going forward.
Rape accusations have followed Masterson around since the early '00s, when he was a cast member on That '70s Show. A police report was filed against him in 2004, but the investigation stalled. Then in March 2017, three more women came forward with accusations against Masterson and the investigation was reopened. In December, after the #MeToo movement began and a Netflix executive embarrassingly told one of Masterson's accusers that the company "doesn't believe" them, the company announced that Masterson would be written off. Shortly after that a fifth woman came forward. Masterson has not been charged with any crime.
At the time his departure was announced, Masterson gave a statement saying, "I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix's decision to write my character off of The Ranch. From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all."
The second half of The Ranch's third season (which will be listed on Netflix as "Part 6") will premiere later this year. Dax Shepard will step in for a recurring role in Part 6, with the option to join the cast if his Fox pilot Bless This Mess doesn't get picked up to series. Shepard will play Luke Matthews, a military veteran who befriends Colt and Beau (Sam Elliott).
The Ranch is now streaming on Netflix.